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How to Manage Remote Teams

Year after year more team members are moving to remote work. This rising trend has lead to new challenges for managers that historically have not been obstacles. This is not a trend expected to reverse, we must adapt. So, how do you manage teams working from home?

Track
You need some form of tracking. It could be a calendar, excel sheet, or a tool to track what your team members are doing. If your staff is supposed to be working from home on specific project you can track where they are at in your meetings with them. Adding in completions percentages and notes. This is an easy thing to do so that when your boss asks you what your team is doing you have a full list ready to go and you can project out when your tasks will be completed.

Trust
For the most part, it’s very similar to managing staff in office. Except, you can’t look over and see what Susan in HR is doing or make sure Dan in Accounting isn’t watching YouTube instead of cleaning up payroll. You have to have trust. Trust that even though you can’t see what your staff is doing, they are working.

This leads to companies being a little more picky about who they hire and who they promote. You can’t see what anyone is really doing other than what they enter into the system. That project that took Jim in Marketing all day to complete could really have only taken him 3 hours. But you don’t know that. You could suspect that. But you can’t know that. So you have to trust, because without trust in your organization you will have a toxic environment.

Use Timelines
Your teams need timelines. Give them tasks to complete and deadlines to meet. It’s easy to lose urgency when you work from home, but you don’t have to. You can harbor urgency in your organization by expecting it at all level and driving timeline on everything, always.

Clear Consistent Communication
For working from home you need Clear Consistent Communication. You can’t speak with ambiguity. Leadership and front-line staff alike need to communicate at the same level. There can be no interpretation to statement. You achieve this by speaking clearly, using as few words as possible, and being consistent with your internal messaging. All managers communicate the same message. All team members hear the same news, the same rules, the same answers.

Make Your Weekly One on One Impactful
This includes following up with them after one on ones and ensuring that one on one meetings are more impact. This could be the 30 minute or 1 hour a week you and this staff member have together. You have a lot of information to get through. Track what you are doing. Look at what was discussed last week and make goals to be achieved by your next meeting. Follow up with an email covering what you went over and their goal for between your next meeting 1 on 1 Track does this for you!

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5 Tips for Managing Remote Teams

I’ve been working with several virtual colleagues for 4 years now. Overseeing far off representatives initially made me need to rip my hair out. It’s hard to trust that people are working when you can’t see them. That was my first obstacle. 

Then you have to deal with the problems associated with each area. A tornado in Texas might make you lose a developer for a day or a week due to power outages. This can feel stressful when it’s a hot sunny day outside in California. We can recruit individuals from any area around the globe which makes it much simpler to employ gifted individuals.

Now and again I had no clue about what my group was doing, or that colleagues would “go missing”– they’d work viably for some time and afterward their nature of work would tighten or they’d quit, or I get baffled about not having the option to speak with them successfully, or I had numerous issues finding and employing incredible individuals distantly. Managing remote teams is tough. 

In any case, presently I realized that I am better about how to make virtual groups work than I was years ago. Leaps and bounds better. The systems I use to manage my team broke down to exactly how I would like to be managed. In essence I treated others as I expected to be treated. I also created clear guidelines so my remote teams were always on the same pace. Below are some great tips for overseeing Telecommuting teams. 

Top Tips for Overseeing Telecommuting Teams”

Tip 1: Track hours worked, attendance and all key indicators of success in their role.

It might make sense simply to track hours worked. However most remote teams are not paid hourly, they are paid salary. Which helps a lot. Salary employees are easier to measure. You are reserving their output with a salary. I personally never cared if a team member worked 35 hours or 45 hours so long as they consistently accomplished the goals required of their position.

In an office environment you can see who is coming in each day even if you are not tracking attendance so you know who is late and how is early. In a completely virtual environment it can be difficult to understand exactly what is going on, how long each person actually was working and what they were working on. Maybe they got stuck on a problem for 2 hours and it looks like they did nothing for the first half of the day because of it. But you can’t see that. All you know is that it’s not done yet.

Some people are extremely disciplined and can get to work on time, stay on task, and avoid any and all distractions around them at home.  The majority of us need some accountability.  For some that means “clocking in” and making sure we avoid distractions like Facebook or YouTube. For others that means having clearly set goals with clear timelines.

We built 1 on 1 Track to better track goals and ensure that team members are following direction, finishing projects, and progressing professionally. 

Tip 2: Implement systems

Without systems, your business can and likely will fall apart. A business run in an office can compensate for not having systems and processes in place by having a few proactive staff members who lean over cubicles and get the information they need quickly. In a telecommuting team each person can be in their own little world. They might forget that there are 100 other team members at the company or they could forget their role in the bigger picture because they generally only need to work with 3-5 other staff members.

Remote workers may even develop their own processes and procedures that don’t sync with the way other team members at your company are working. It’s best to have a documented standard operating procedure that details what should be done for all stages of your processes so that staff can be held to these processes. This also helps with on-boarding.

Our team follows a clear set of rules for setting product demos and communicating product feedback. Feedback is not shouted out to the entire team. It doesn’t go straight to the owner. It goes to the development team so that it can be tallied and if we see enough of the same suggestion we know we have something we should be addressing.

Tip 3: Allow a degree of flexible work hours for remote team members.

People working in remote roles will likely want some flexibility with their work hours. It is important to allow a degree of flexibility when managing remote employees. However you can hurt your team by being too flexible or too lenient. Staff should be held to their goals and projects and work should be done to ensure that your team is meeting the company’s overall goals.

Does it make a huge difference if a team member is working between 9 and 6 opposed to 8 and 5? It likely doesn’t. So why not allow it?

While working from home (telecommuting) we allow staff to do dishes make dinner and do laundry. We know these things will happen and when we hear them mention that they were just doing that when we call we don’t jump down their throats about productivity. We ask what’s for dinner.

It all boils down to trust. Remote team members get an hour of break a day. It is up to them how they use it. If they want to use it in 4 15 minute intervals to load laundry then that is fine with me. Some people like doing that kind of stuff midway through the day because it helps them clear their minds. It could make them more effective.

What we measure is goals and projects. We keep a clear eye on if team members are completing week to week objectives that are given when we have our 1 on 1 meetings.

In each 1 on 1 we give a specific important task that needs to be completed between our meetings. Then using 1 on 1 Track we are able to see how often team members accomplish this goal. This lets us know who is staying on task and who is not performing quite where we need them to be. With this information we can then begin to work on training improvements to help the team members get better.

Working from home remote working memes

Tip 4: Organize overlapping times for communicating in different time zones. (Remote teams and meetings)

Timezones can kill communication in a remote team if you are not careful. If members of your team work in different time zones (which isn’t very uncommon), then make sure that you have an overlapping time period where everyone is planning on working and you can organize your virtual meetings during these overlapping times. If you manage teams on the east and west coast you might have a “morning” meeting at 11 am, when the last of year team starts to work at 8 am their time.

However this might not be enough. Depending on the type of work you are doing you may want to consider only hiring people in the same timezone or where the time is only 3 hours apart (For instance, across the United States). Working more than 3 time zones apart can get pretty hectic and cause gaps in communication.

Working across time zones increases the need for clear consistent communication. As a manager you might not even be awake when the first problem your team runs into happens. Or you could be taking your significant other out to dinner (with your phone off) and not realize there is a problem. Your teams need to understand that while they are harder to reach, so will you also be.

Tip 5: Have a chat room open at all times

Your team can just pop over to your desk. Remote teams need to know that they can reach you. They need to see that you are there. Having a team chat room and individual chats on a system like Microsoft Teams, Skype, or Slack can really make communication easier.

It’s less formal and team members can ask each other questions. This allows them to help each other and it allows you to see their communication back and forth. You may answer a question for 1 of them and find that multiple team members had the same question but were afraid to ask.

Be wary of Chat and Email overload

It is hard to communicate enough and easy to over communicate. No one is going to read a long chat message or an overly long email. You need to keep things short and easy to understand and you need to limit communication to only the necessary times.

Depending on your intention you need to choose the method of communication that works best.

  • Email – For quick interactions that are not meant to be long conversations.
  • Chat programs – Skype, Microsoft Teams, or Slack are great tools for team communication.
  • Video chat – Anything voice related should be done over video chat so that you can see each other. We do our 1 on 1’s in a video chat and then track those interactions in 1 on 1 Track to help improve our teams performance.

Remote Team Tip: Tracking Team Members

Tip: Track hours worked, attendance and all key indicators of success in their role.

It might make sense simply to track hours worked. However most remote teams are not paid hourly, they are paid salary. Which helps a lot. Salary employees are easier to measure. You are reserving their output with a salary. I personally never cared if a team member worked 35 hours or 45 hours so long as they consistently accomplished the goals required of their position.

In an office environment you can see who is coming in each day even if you are not tracking attendance so you know who is late and how is early. In a completely virtual environment it can be difficult to understand exactly what is going on, how long each person actually was working and what they were working on. Maybe they got stuck on a problem for 2 hours and it looks like they did nothing for the first half of the day because of it. But you can’t see that. All you know is that it’s not done yet.

Some people are extremely disciplined and can get to work on time, stay on task, and avoid any and all distractions around them at home.  The majority of us need some accountability.  For some that means “clocking in” and making sure we avoid distractions like Facebook or YouTube. For others that means having clearly set goals with clear timelines.

We built 1 on 1 Track to better track goals and ensure that team members are following direction, finishing projects, and progressing professionally.

Managing Remote Teams Tip: Implement Systems

Tip: Implement systems

Without systems, your business can and likely will fall apart. A business run in an office can compensate for not having systems and processes in place by having a few proactive staff members who lean over cubical and get the information they need quickly. In a telecommuting team each person can be in their own little world. They might forget that there are 100 other team members at the company or they could forget their role in the bigger picture because they generally only need to work with 3-5 other staff members.

Remote workers may even develop their own processes and procedures that don’t sync with the way other team members at your company are working. It’s best to have a documented standard operating procedure that details what should be done for all stages of your processes so that staff can be held to these processes. This also helps with on-boarding.

Our team follows a clear set of rules for setting product demos and communicating product feedback. Feedback is not shouted out to the entire team. It doesn’t go straight to the owner. It goes to the development team so that it can be tallied and if we see enough of the same suggestion we know we have something we should be addressing.

Managing a Remote Team: Flexible Work Hours?

Tip: Allow a degree of flexible work hours for remote team members.

People working in remote roles will likely want some flexibility with their work hours. It is important to allow a degree of flexibility when managing remote employees. However you can hurt your team by being too flexible or too lenient. Staff should be held to their goals and projects and work should be done to ensure that your team is meeting the company’s overall goals.

Does it make a huge difference if a team member is working between 9 and 6 opposed to 8 and 5? It likely doesn’t. So why not allow it?


While working from home (telecommuting) we allow staff to do dishes make dinner and do laundry. We know these things will happen and when we hear them mention that they were just doing that when we call we don’t jump down their throats about productivity. We ask what’s for dinner.

It all boils down to trust. Remote team members get an hour of break a day. It is up to them how they use it. If they want to use it in 4 15 minute intervals to load laundry then that is fine with me. Some people like doing that kind of stuff midway through the day because it helps them clear their minds. It could make them more effective.

What we measure is goals and projects. We keep a clear eye on if team members are completing week to week objectives that are given when we have our 1 on 1 meetings.

In each 1 on 1 we give a specific important task that needs to be completed between our meetings. Then using 1 on 1 Track we are able to see how often team members accomplish this goal. This lets us know who is staying on task and who is not performing quite where we need them to be. With this information we can then begin to work on training improvements to help the team member get better.

Managing Team Members in Multiple Time Zones

Tip: Organize overlapping times for communicating in different time zones. (Remote teams and meetings)

Timezones can kill communication in a remote team if you are not careful. If members of your team work in different time zones (which isn’t very uncommon), then make sure that you have an overlapping time period where everyone is planning on working and you can organize your virtual meetings during these overlapping times. If you manage teams on the east and west coast you might have a “morning” meeting at 11 am, when the last of year team starts to work at 8 am their time.

However this might not be enough. Depending on the type of work you are doing you may want to consider only hiring people in the same timezone or where the time is only 3 hours apart (For instance, across the United States). Working more than 3 time zones apart can get pretty hectic and cause gaps in communication.

Working across time zones increases the need for clear consistent communication. As a manager you might not even be awake when the first problem your team runs into happens. Or you could be taking your significant other out to dinner (with your phone off) and not realize there is a problem. Your teams need to understand that while they are harder to reach, so will you also be.

Communicating Across Remote Teams

Tip: Have a chat room open at all times

Your team can just pop over to your desk. Remote teams need to know that they can reach you. They need to see that you are there. Having a team chat room and individual chats on a system like Microsoft Teams, Skype, or Slack can really make communication easier.

It’s less formal and team members can ask each other questions. This allows them to help each other and it allows you to see their communication back and forth. You may answer a question for 1 of them and find that multiple team member had the same question but were afraid to ask.

Be wary of Chat and Email overload

It is hard to communicate enough and easy to over communicate. No one is going to read a long chat message or an overly long email. You need to keep things short and easy to understand and you need to limit communication to only the necessary times.

Depending on your intention you need to choose the method of communication that works best.

  • Email – For quick interactions that are not meant to be long conversations.
  • Chat programs – Skype, Microsoft Teams, or Slack are great tools for team communication.
  • Video chat – Anything voice related should be done over video chat so that you can see each other. We do our 1 on 1’s in a video chat and then track those interactions in 1 on 1 Track to help improve our teams performance.

Quick Tips for Managing Remote Teams

I’ve been working with several virtual colleagues for 4 years now. Overseeing far off representatives initially made me need to rip my hair out. It’s hard to trust that people are working when you can’t see them. That was my first obstacle. 

Then you have to deal with the problems associated with each area. A tornado in Texas might make you lose a developer for a day or a week due to power outages. This can feel stressful when it’s a hot sunny day outside in California. We can recruit individuals from any area around the globe which makes it much simpler to employ gifted individuals.

Now and again I had no clue about what my group was doing, or that colleagues would “go missing”– they’d work viably for some time and afterward their nature of work would tighten or they’d quit, or I get baffled about not having the option to speak with them successfully, or I had numerous issues finding and employing incredible individuals distantly. Managing remote teams is tough. 

In any case, presently I realized that I am better about how to make virtual groups work than I was years ago. Leaps and bounds better. The systems I use to manage my team broke down to exactly how I would like to be managed. In essence I treated others as I expected to be treated. I also created clear guidelines so my remote teams were always on the same pace. Below are some great tips for overseeing Telecommuting teams. 

Top Tips for Overseeing Telecommuting Teams

  • Track hours worked, participation and other essential proportions of profitability 
  • Sort out an arrangement of covering times for imparting in various time regions 
  • Be careful about visit and email over-burden 
  • Use devices for snappy video and visual correspondence 
  • Successful coordinated effort on archives and spreadsheets 
  • Make a standard onboarding process 
  • Meet face to face

For help managing your team try using 1 on 1 Track!

What is a Telecommuting Agreement?

In 2020 we all experienced something unprecedented in our lifetimes. Covid-19 (Corona Virus). This has lead to hundreds of thousands of workers now working from their kitchens, bedrooms, basements, and home offices. More people work from home now than ever before. So, it is no surprise that companies have created agreements for these situations.

A Telecommuting Agreement specifies the terms and conditions an agreed upon arrangement. This includes verification that the alternate location provides a workspace that is free from safety and fire hazards. The alternate location in many cases being the employee’s home.

In the telecommuting agreement, the employee holds the employer harmless from any and all claims from the employee working in the alternate location with the exception of Workers’ Compensation claims. The agreement also documents the responsibilities for both parties and establishes expectations regarding work hours and performance for the employee.

The telecommuting agreement acknowledges the special importance of effective communication between the employee and their supervisor and includes provisions for making communication a priority.

Telecommuting agreements are sometimes known as telecommuting contracts. These are becoming more common in the workplace as more companies have found losing office space and having employees work from very cost effective.

Looking for an example of a Telecommuting agreement? Click here!

Looking for a way to manage your remote teams more efficiently? Try 1 on 1 Track today!

What is a Telecommuting Agreement?

What is a Telecommuting Agreement?

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